A recent article from Inc. highlights five retail predictions for 2022. Stores, data, and experiences serve as common themes for next year. As sales numbers and traffic rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels, consumers and retailers are optimistic for the future.
Here are Inc.’s retail predictions for 2022:
Stores Make a Major Comeback
Numerous retailers have announced brick-and-mortar expansions within the last year – DICK’s Sporting Goods, Ralph Lauren, Warby Parker, and Allbirds to name a few. With the frictions and rising costs of e-commerce, many direct-to-consumer companies have also made the initiative to open physical stores.
With the influx of brick-and-mortar stores, future retailers will need to deliver meaningful and personalized store experiences to continue to stand out. Experiential setups that incorporate physical and digital elements are a common theme among retailers today, and will continue to be popular throughout 2022. Experimentation with store models, locations and setup is crucial in 2022 as retailers see the formats that work best for their consumers.
Stores Become Multifaceted Assets
The pandemic has made stores more than just a place to shop – they now serve as distribution hubs and last-mile delivery options for brands. Consumers today want fast, reliable shipping options. When retailers use their own stores as distribution centers, they can guarantee faster shipping rates.
Brands Use Data to Find New Customers
Data has become paramount in determining new store locations. The pandemic caused many people to move from bigger cities to the suburbs, creating a need for more stores in those areas. Retailers are now opening smaller-format stores to cater to these neighborhoods.
Location data isn’t the only thing source retailers are pulling from. They are also testing data crowd-tracking cameras, point-of-sale devices, customer smartphones and in-store sensors to find new customers.
Digital-Only Customer Acquisition Strategies Won’t Cut It
Stores have become their very own ads – walking billboards that sell. Considerable ad spend in 2022 will likely be directed towards experimentation for brick-and-mortar locations.
Store Associates Will Become a Significant Competitive Advantage
Brands have realized the true potential and competitive advantage of store associates. Frontline store teams will facilitate locations and influence consumers in 2022.
While technology plays an important role in retail today, the most successful brands understand the true power of human connections and interactions. Store associates can create meaningful and empowering relationships with consumers who enter their stores.